Assam situated on the northeast of India is a state rich in flora and fauna. There are a different varieties of vegetables and herbs found in abundance here mainly because of the climatic conditions. These proves effective in the treatment of different diseases and ailments according to research. In fact natives here consume these not only for their medicinal properties but also as seasonal vegetables. Here’s a list of 8 most popular indigenous medicinal plants good for health and immunity.
1. Manimuni or Indian pennywort : This plant is native to the wetlands in Asia and is found in abundance in Assam. Its scientific name is Centella Asiatica and grows in gardens or damp uncultivated areas.
Manimuni, as we call it in Assamese, has many health benefits but the one which we widely believe is that it helps cure dysentery when consumed raw after pound crushing, especially the juice.
Apart from this manimuni has other health benefits too. It helps improve memory and is best taken early morning by extracting the juice. Mix it with a little honey or salt according to your taste. It is a blood purifier and helps relieve menstrual pain, it heals wounds, is effective in hair growth, promotes flow of urine and is helpful in Gonorrhea too. It is generally consumed raw like chutney or after extracting the juice.
2. Dupor bon tenga or Goethe plant : Bryophyllum Pinnatum is the scientific name of the Goethe plant which is a succulent. Its Assamese name is dupor bon tenga. This plant has great medicinal values for which it is also called the miracle leaf or leaf of life.
Dupor tenga is believed to be greatly effective in treating kidney stones. Consumption of 4-5 raw leaves with a glass of water first thing in the morning for about 2 months proves effective.
Bryophyllum Pinnatum is used in ethno medicine for treatment of earache, burns, abscesses, ulcers, insect bites, diarrhea and Lithiasis. The paste of this plant if applied on the head kills lice and is also effective in healing piles when applied on affected areas. The miracle leaf also prevents gastric ulcers, increases urination and lowers cholesterol.
3. Doron bon or Leucas : The scientific name of this plant is Leucas aspera and is commonly used as an insecticide. In Assamese we call it Doron bon. This plant is also used as an edible vegetable and herbal remedy as well. In many parts of India people plant this weed in front of their homes to repel snakes and other venomous animals. It is, in fact, most commonly used in the treatment of snakebites.
The flowers of this plant are administered in the form of a syrup as a domestic remedy for cough and cold, and for the treatment of intestinal worm infections in children. It is a valuable homeopathic drug and used in the treatment of chronic malaria and asthma. The juice extracted from the leaves cures skin problems since it is antibacterial. It also strengthens the liver and the lungs. Sinusitis, pharyngitis, decay of tooth, loss of appetite, headache, body ache, influenza are some other medical conditions which may be cured by the use of this plant.
4. Jilmil saak or White goosefoot : The scientific name of this plant is Chenopodium album and is consumed as a leafy vegetable. Jilmil saak, as we call it in Assamese, has a high level of oxalic acid for which it should be eaten in moderation. Its seeds are high in Protein, Vitamin A, Calcium, Phosphorus and Potassium.
This plant helps increase haemoglobin levels in the body, and helps cure constipation, arthritis, rheumatism, enlargement of the spleen and bile related diseases.
5. Tengesi tenga or Indian sorrel : Also known as creeping wood sorrel it’s scientific name is Oxalis corniculata. Tengesi tenga is rich in Vitamin C and the leaves have a tangy taste.
The paste of the leaves cures eczema and soothes painful insect bites. It also improves memory and strengthens the nervous system. It is helpful for the cure of lower back pain, urinary tract infections, high blood pressure, diabetes, dysentery, fever, headache and loss of appetite.
6. Brahmi saak or Water hyssop : The scientific name of this plant is Bacopa Monnieri and is native to the wetlands of eastern and southern India. The plant is bitter in taste but with great medicinal properties. This plant is used in Ayurvedic traditional medicine to improve memory and treat various ailments. Preliminary clinical research found that Bacopa Monnieri may improve cognition. If taken for a long term it helps in improving concentration level and attention span.
The high anti-oxidant content in the plant helps reduce depression and anxiety. Because of this property it also lowers the risk of diabetes. It can also stabilize asthma and improve liver health. Bacopa Monnieri is currently being studied for its possible neuroprotective properties.
7. Musondori saak or Himalayan spinach : Hottuynia cordata is the scientific name of this plant which is a perennial ground creeper. In Assam it is consumed as a leafy vegetable also or used as a herb for the cure of certain ailments.
This plant is very useful in the treatment of stomach related problems and particularly very effective for curing dysentery. In countries like Japan and Korea the dried leaves of this plant is used to make tea because of its detoxifying properties. It increases blood in the body, prevents heart diseases and strengthens muscles.
8. Mati Kanduri or Dwarf copperleaf : This is an aquatic plant and its scientific name is Alternanthera sessilis. As a herbal medicine the plant has diuretic, cooling, tonic and laxative properties. Its stem and leaves are normally consumed as vegetables here in Assam.
The juice of the leaves increases milk production and hence is good for lactating mothers, it increases milk production in cows also. It helps in skin related diseases like leprosy and minor itching. It is very beneficial for treating loose bowels, helpful in curing night blindness and fever.
9. Bhedailota or Stink vine is a creeper plant native to temperate and tropical Asia. It is also known as skunk vine or Chinese fever vine. Its scientific name is Paederia foetida. The leaves has a strong sulphurous odour and used in traditional cooking or as culinary spice in North-eastern India. It is also used in folk medicine for its medicinal values. It heals stomach related problems like indigestion, flatulence, dyspepsia, stomach ache, dysentery, diarrhea etc. It is very effective for new mothers post delivery. Skunk vine leaves are useful in treating rheumatism pain, infertility, paralysis, urinary bladder stones, urinary retention and a few other ailments too.
Different parts of the stink vine plant are beneficial for treating different ailments, but the leaves are widely consumed here in Assam mainly for its medicinal properties. Locally called bhedailota this herb is widely used to make bor mixed with lentils. Also it can be used in curry after making a paste which is very nutritious.
10. Narasingha or Curry Leaves are rich sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin B2, Calcium and iron. It can be used for the treatment of dysentery, diarrhea, diabetes, morning sickness and nausea. Besides, it also helps lower cholesterol levels, boost digestion, eradicates bacteria, improves liver health, promotes weight loss, improves blood circulation etc.
Locally we call it Narasingha in Assam and apart from using it for seasoning and garnishing, we use it for regular cooking also. The fresh tender leaves are grinded to a paste and can be added to any dish to make a curry or gravy. The aroma and the taste are very refreshing and are exceptionally beneficial to people with iron deficiency. Add one or two spoonfuls of the paste to your meat, fish, egg or basic potato curry and relish one healthy nutritious meal. It’s a great source of nutrition for kids also, if fed in small quantities.
These plants mentioned above are native not only to Assam but certain other places too. The manner in which they are consumed however differs from places to places. In Assam these are consumed as vegetables on quite a regular basis. Some go as accompaniments with fish as curry, or consumed raw as chutneys and salad dressings, some as juice after extraction. For common ailments like dysentery, stomach pain, cuts and bruises, cough and cold these plants tend to be very effective too and form an integral part of Ayurvedic traditional medicine.
Also I am very excited to inform that my first non-fiction travel guide book on Assam has been published with an ISBN number. I am sure the book would be helpful and interesting, covering a lot of different topics on Assam as a tourist destination. If you wish to purchase a copy then I will be adding the link below.